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Dave Prentis
I am not tied closely to Tony Blair
 real 28k

Monday, 28 February, 2000, 16:44 GMT
New leader for biggest trade union
Hospital ward scene
Dave Prentis will represent public sector workers
The new leader of the UK's biggest trade union has pledged to put more pressure on the government to increase the national minimum wage.

Dave Prentis, 50, currently Unison's deputy general secretary, was chosen by union members to take over at the top when current leader Rodney Bickerstaffe stands down at the end of the year.

The union represents 1.3 million workers in the health service, local councils and utilities.

Who won what?
Dave Prentis, dep gen sec: 125,584 votes
Roger Bannister, Knowsley branch secretary: 71,021 votes
Malkiat Bilku, London shop steward: 27,785 votes.
Mr Prentis told a news conference at Unison's head office he would hold talks with the government about how to properly fund public services and deal with the "backlog" caused by the policy of sticking to Tory spending limits.

He also said the minimum wage must be increased to become what he called a "living wage."

"The government has to realise it is our members who deliver public services and we want to insure that they do that without imposition and low salaries," he said.

Mr Bickerstaffe said he was delighted with Mr Prentis' success.

Rodney Bickerstaffe
Rodney Bickerstaffe: Standing down
He said: "The tradition he comes from means that he puts trade unions first, second and third and I am sure we will have a really good few years ahead of us."

TUC general secretary John Monks said: "It will be a hard challenge taking over from Rodney Bickerstaffe, but in Dave Prentis, Unison's members have elected an experienced and tough new leader who will take forward the union and advance trade unionism in general."

Mr Prentis, who was born in Leeds, was deputy general secretary of the former Nalgo union, and kept the position after the merger which created Unison. He has held responsibility for negotiations and industrial action.

He is a member of the TUC general council, the TUC New Unionism project and its task force into institutional racism, which was set up following the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.

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See also:

15 Feb 00 |  Business
Minimum wage set to rise
30 Oct 99 |  Business Basics
Minimum wage in the UK
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